By Charlie Roberson
Tom Tykwer, born in 1965 in what was then West Germany, is a high-profile German filmmaker with a number of great movies to his name. He is best known for his work as a director but he has been involved with many aspects of his films, including writing, producing, and composing the soundtrack.
Like many others, Tykwer’s made his first forays into the world of cinema with Super-8 film, completing his first work at the age of 11. He continued this journey by working at various cinemas as a projectionist and a programmer.
After making a few short films, the aspiring auteur progressed to making feature films with 1993’s Deadly Maria. However it wasn’t until five years later that he got his breakthrough with Run Lola Run, an unusual and compelling sci-fi thriller. It was the highest grossing German film of the year and went on to earn a cult following.
He followed this success with The Princess and the Warrior in 2000 before going on to make his English-language debut with 2002’s Heaven, based on a screenplay by legendary Polish director Krzysztof KieÅ›lowski.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Tykwer’s next project was something completely different; in 2006 Perfume: The Story of a Murderer was released, an audacious drama with a hefty budget about a man’s homicidal quest for the perfect scent. The film was praised in particular for its cinematography.
Drawing increasing attention from an American audience, the German director looked to the worlds of espionage and corruption for his subsequent feature, The International. It’s a fantastically well-made thriller, culminating in a shoot-out which required the production team to create a full-scale replica of New York’s Guggenheim Museum.
But it is Tykwer’s most recent film, a collaboration with the Wachowkis, that is his most noteworthy. Adapted from the novel of the same name, Cloud Atlas is one of the most ambitious films ever made. It tells six radically different stories about six different characters in six different eras and explores the connections between them.
It polarised critics and didn’t get the attention it deserved at the box office, but Cloud Atlas is already carving out a niche as a film that demands to be seen. It is also noteworthy for being one of the expensive independent films ever and perhaps the first attempt at a German blockbuster.
Tykwer also deserves praise for his philanthropic efforts. He is co-founder of One Fine Day, an organisation dedicated to encouraging education in the arts in Nairobi. From this enterprise One Fine Day Films was born, a production company founded to further and promote African filmmaking. Tykwer has served as producer to all of their films so far.
As a company promoting world cinema we’re obviously a little bit biased, but we think that it is this commitment to cinema from all regions that makes Tom Tykwer a fascinating presence. He has made films in many different language and shot them on locations all over the world. Appropriately, his back catalogue is truly international.
Tom Tykwer’s next feature will be A Hologram for the King and will see him teaming up with Tom Hanks again. It is expected to be released in 2015.